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Stevedores at port made redundant

PUBLISHED: 02:54 30 May 2002 | UPDATED: 12:01 03 March 2010

PORTWORKERS who deal with P&O ships at Felixstowe have been given redundancy notices – even though the ferry firm's departure is not yet confirmed.

Stevedores who tie up the ro-ro ferries have been given 90 days' notice by the port owners, with the option of being transferred to shifts on Trinity Terminal.

PORTWORKERS who deal with P&O ships at Felixstowe have been given redundancy notices – even though the ferry firm's departure is not yet confirmed.

Stevedores who tie up the ro-ro ferries have been given 90 days' notice by the port owners, with the option of being transferred to shifts on Trinity Terminal.

But P&O North Sea Ferries said today that it had only announced its intention to pull out of the port and there was a long way to go before the matter was settled.

The company is set to axe its sailings between Felixstowe and Europoort, at Rotterdam, and Zeebrugge, which will mean 50 job losses on landside operations plus those portworkers seconded to deal with the P&O ships.

However, the move hinges on the completion of a £150 million deal in which Stena Line would take over three of the Felixstowe ships, and this is also subject to clearance under UK and Dutch merger control law.

P&O NSF UK director Bob Lough told The Evening Star that no timetable was being worked to and the deal was far from done – and certainly not 90 days away.

"These matters can take a lot of time and all that has happened so far is that P&O and Stena have signed a memorandum of understanding," he said.

"Investigations are taking place over the proposed sale of the three ships and consultation is ongoing with many interested parties. There is no timetable.

"Lawyers will be involved in looking at due diligence with regard to the sale and in drawing up necessary agreements and documents. It is a lengthy process."

The company had given the Port of Felixstowe notice that it may wish to terminate the stevedoring arrangements, but this was only to forewarn the port in case the hoped-for deal goes ahead.

Paul Davey, corporate affairs manager for the port owners, Hutchison Ports UK, refused to confirm how many stevedores were made redundant, saying he could not comment on the issuing of redundancy notices to employees currently working on the P&O terminal berths.

"We are in full consultation with the union on the impact and effect of the P&O decision," he said.

Seafarers have been assured that crews' jobs are safe as they would transfer with the ships to Stena, probably working on a new Harwich to Rotterdam route.

P&O said the Felixstowe sailings had failed to "to achieve an adequate return, despite the best efforts of management" and the time had come to move out of unprofitable routes.

Since P&O NSF took over the Felixstowe operations in 1997 it has seen no growth in cargo volumes. The first half of last year saw volumes fall by 11pc.

Five years ago the company axed its passenger sailings between Felixstowe-Zeebrugge, which had been used by 500,000 people a year. Despite a long campaign by local councillors and tourist traders, P&O refused to reinstate the services and said the decision had been made for sound commercial reasons.


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